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It’s true that most days I forget about Down syndrome. I mean, it’s always there right? It’s not like Cop is ever going to catch up and be typical. He’ll always have an extra copy of that 21st chromosome and everything that that means for him. But most days we don’t think too much about it. I’ve said that before and I’ll say it lots more I’m sure because it’s true. It’s hard to imagine how easy it is to forget.

This weekend I took the kids to one of those indoor play places, where they have all sorts of toys and dress up clothes and kitchens and stuff. Four days at home creates a lot of pent up energy, for kids and adults, and it’s nice to cut the kids loose somewhere they can run and play and go bonkers with other kids. Unfortunately, there weren’t any other big kids there so I let Cop play in the little kid area with a couple other babies, and I split my time running back and forth checking on him and playing with Henry.

One thing that parents invariably do at these places is compare milestones. I was grateful to have my attention divided, it got me off the hook from interacting with these 2 eager first time moms. Their babies were 10 and 11 months, crawling of course, standing, practicing walking.

Cop’s enthusiasm is infectious, his big thing right now is waving, he will wave the heck out of everyone we see, everywhere we go. And so it was at the play place. He’s waving and doing his ingenious but funky army crawl to slowly navigate the tot area. When I come back to check on him one of the moms asks me his age.

And that’s when the pit starts. I know what will happen when I tell her, surprise then confusion will flash across her face, she’ll compose her features into a polite mask and say “oh…?”

And so it does. It always does, it always plays out like this.

And at this point I’m done with the moms, but I’m just starting on me. I’m so disappointed in myself, because in that flash of surprise and then confusion, I’m always tempted to explain, to tell them that Cop has Ds and… what? Apologize for him? Explain why he doesn’t meet the expectations of strangers? I won’t. I don’t. But I wish I didn’t feel like I what? Need to? Want to?

I don’t know. I ignore it, let them wonder, let them ask themselves what’s “wrong” with him. Who knows, maybe they can tell from looking at him that he has Ds. I have no idea. My frame of reference for that sort of thing is gone.

But I’m disappointed in myself. For even though I offer no explanation, I’m ashamed that for a fleeting second I felt like I should.